The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1792.
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The parish of Battersea lies in the hundred of Brixton, and is situated near the river Thames, about three miles from Westminster-Bridge. The name has undergone several changes. In the Conqueror's Survey, it is called Patricesy; and has since been written Battrichsey, Battersey, and Battersea, each variation carrying it still farther from its original signification. Much vague conjecture has been bestowed upon the etymology of this name, both by those who have seen the more ancient records, and those who have attempted to derive it from the more recent mode of spelling it. Aubrey derives the name from St. Patrick (fn. 1). Lambarde, who quotes Leland for his authority, (though I have not been able to find any thing on the subject in his printed works,) indulges in the most ridiculous conjectures (fn. 2). Of the original signification of the word, I think there can be little doubt. Patricesy, in the Saxon, is Peter's water, or river; and as the same record which calls it Patricesy, mentions that it was given to St. Peter, it might then first assume that appellation; but this I own to be conjecture. Petersham, which is written precisely the same in Doomsday, Patriceham, belonged to St. Peter's Abbey, Chertsey, and retains it's original name a little modernised.
Boundary and extent.
The parish of Battersea is bounded on the east by Lambeth; on the south by Camberwell, Stretham, and Clapham; on the west by Wandsworth; and on the north by the river Thames. The land is pretty equally divided between arable (garden ground included) and pasture. The greater part of Wandsworth common, which extends nearly two miles in length towards Stretham, and a considerable part of Clapham common are in the parish of Battersea. The northern extremity of the latter, is called Battersea-Rise; and is ornamented with several villas, it being a spot much admired for its pleasant situation, and fine prospect. Penge common, in a detached part of the parish adjoining to Beckenham in Kent, is two miles in circumference. The parish is rated to the land-tax, at the sum of 817l. 10s. which is supposed to be about 1s. 9d. in the pound.
Above three hundred acres of land in the parish of Battersea are occupied by the market gardeners, of whom there are about twenty who rent from five or six, to near sixty acres each. These gardeners employ, in the summer season, a considerable number of labourers, though perhaps not so many as is generally supposed; on an average, I am informed, not one to an acre. The wages of the men are from ten to twelve, of the women from five to seven shillings, by the week. Most of the women travel on foot from Shropshire and North-Wales in the spring; and, as they live at a very cheap rate (fn. 3), many of them return to their own country much richer than when they left it. The soil of the ground occupied by the gardeners is sandy, and requires a great deal of rain. The vegetables which they raise, are in general very fine; their cabbages and aspa ragus, particularly, have acquired celebrity. Fuller, who wrote in the year 1660, speaking of the gardens in Surrey, says, "Garden"ing was first brought into England for profit, about seventy years ago; before which we fetched most of our cherries from Holland, apples from France, and had hardly a mess of rath ripe peas but from Holland, which were dainties for ladies, they came so far, and cost so dear. Since gardening hath crept out of Holland, to Sandwich, Kent, and thence to Surrey, where, though they have given 6l. an acre and upwards, they have made their rent, lived comfortably, and set many people on work. Oh, the incredible profit by digging of ground! for though it be confessed, that the plough beats the spade out of distance for speed, (almost as much as the press beats the pen,) yet what the spade wants in the quantity of the ground it manureth, it recompenseth with the plenty of the food it yieldeth, that which is set multiplying a hundred fold more than that which is sown. 'Tisincredible how many poor people in London live thereon, so that, in some seasons, the gardens feed more people than the field (fn. 4)." I hope to have it in my power, before the conclusion of the present work, to give a general view of the present state of gardening in the neighbourhood of London, and to ascertain, pretty nearly, what quantity of ground is occupied for that purpose. The rent of land in Fuller's time, appears to have been extremely high. The gardens at Battersea pay 7s. 6d. an acre for tithes to their vicar.
The manor of Battersea, which before the Conquest belonged to earl Harold, was given by the Conqueror to WestminsterAbbey, in exchange for Windsor. The record of Doomsday mentions some dismemberments of the manor, by the bishop of Baieux and earl Morton. These lands probably formed the estate which afterwards came to the Stanleys. There is a hide of land likewise mentioned, which belonged to the Abbey of Chertsey, of which a singular circumstance is recorded; that, on account of some quarrel, the provost of the village (fn. 5) detached it from the manor of Battersea, and threw it into that of Chertsey. The manor was valued in the Confessor's time at 80l. it afterwards sunk in value to 30l. and at the time of the Survey was estimated at 75l. In the taxation of 1291, the possessions of the Abbey of Westminster, in Battersea, were rated at 15l. (fn. 6) Thomas Astle, Esq. has an original deed of archbishop Theobald, confirming a charter of king Stephen, by which he exempts the greater part of this manor from all taxes and secular payments. Dart mentions several charters relating to Battersea (fn. 7); viz. William the Conqueror's original grant; a charter of privileges; and a grant to the Abbot of Westminster, of liberty to hunt in his manor; a charter of confirmation by Henry the First; and another of king Stephen; besides that of privileges before-mentioned.
After the dissolution of monasteries, the manor was reserved in the hands of the crown; a lease of it was granted to Henry Roydon (fn. 8), Esq. by queen Elizabeth, for twenty-one years, in the eighth year of her reign; it was afterwards granted for the same term to his daughter, then Joan Holcroft (fn. 9); it was assigned, amongst others, for the maintenance of prince Henry, An. 1610 (fn. 10). In the year 1627, it was granted in reversion to Oliver St. John, Viscount Grandison (fn. 11).
Lord Grandison died in 1630, and was succeeded in that title, and in the Battersea estate, by William Villiers, his great-nephew, who died of a wound received at the siege of Bristol, An. 1644. Sir John St. John, Bart. nephew of the first lord Grandison, inherited Battersea; from him it passed in a regular descent to Sir Walter St. John, Bart. his nephew; to Sir Walter's son, Henry Viscount St. John; and to his grandson Henry Viscount Bolingbrooke, who, by an act of parliament passed before his father's death, was enabled to inherit his estate, notwithstanding his attainder: the estate and manor continued in the St. John family till 1763, when it was bought in trust for John Viscount Spencer, and is now the property of the present earl Spencer.
A pedigree of the St. John family, from the time of their first settling at Battersea, explaining at one view the descent of the manor, which has been erroneously stated in the peerage (fn. 12), is hereto annexed.
Custom of the manor.
In this manor lands descend to the youngest son; but in default of sons, they do not go to the youngest daughter, but are divided among the daughters equally.
The Stanley family had a considerable estate here, which was alienated in the reign of Edward IV. by John Stanley, Esq. one moiety thereof became the property of Anne, duchess of Buckingham (fn. 13), the king's aunt; the other consisting of near 400 acres of land, with houses, &c. was purchased by Lawrence Booth (fn. 14), then bishop of Durham, and by him annexed to the see of York, of which he was afterwards archbishop. He is said to have built the house upon this estate, near the water-side, now called York-house (fn. 15). It was intended as a residence for his successors, when their affairs should call them to London; and fourscore acres of land were reserved by a special clause in their farmer's lease to be surrendered to the archbishop, to use as demesne lands at a month's notice, whenever he should be resident at Battersea, or within sixty miles of that place. This clause had been infringed before archbishop Grindall's time, and his predecessors had been unjustly deprived of the use of the aforesaid land. Grindall had a successful suit with the farmer, and leased the estate to a new tenant with the usual agreement. The house was formerly an occasional residence of the archbishops; but, for more than a century, it has been occupied only by tenants. Tradition, with its usual fondness for appropriation, speaks of Wolsey's residence there; and the room is yet shown in which he entertained Anne Bulleyn: but besides the improbability that Wolsey, who, when he was archbishop of York, lived in as great and sometimes in greater state than the king himself, and was owner of two most magnificent palaces, should reside in a house which would not have contained half his retinue; it is well known that these entertainments were given at York-house, Whitehall.
To speak of a circumstance for which there is authority:— When archbishop Holgate was committed to the Tower by queen Mary, in 1553, the officers, who were employed to apprehend him, rifled his house at Battersea, and took away from thence "300 l. of gold coin, 1600 ounces of plate, a mitre of fine gold, with two pendants set round about the sides and midst, with very fine pointed diamonds, sapphires, and balists; and all the plain, with other good stones and pearls; and the pendants in like manner, weighing 125 ounces; some very valuable rings, a serpent's tongue set in a standard of silver gilt, and graven; the archbishop's seal in silver; and his signet an antique in gold (fn. 16)." Holgate was afterwards deprived of his bishopric, to which he was never restored (fn. 17).
The church of Battersea is situated on the banks of the Thames; it is a modern structure, and has neither aisles nor chancel; the com munion-table is placed within a small recess, at the east end. It was rebuilt by an act of parliament, passed 14 Geo. 3. and was opened on the 17th of November 1777. It is of brick, and has a tower, with a small conical spire at the west end. The east window consists of painted glass, which was carefully preserved at the rebuilding of the church, and contains portraits of Henry the Seventh; his grandmother, Margaret Beauchamp; and queen Elizabeth: they do not appear to have been coëval with the persons they represent, but of a more recent date. Over the portraits, are the royal arms in the central compartment; and on each side, the arms (fn. 18) and quarterings of the St. Johns: the portraits are likewise surrounded with borders, containing the arms (fn. 19) of the families allied to them by marriage. The former church was built of brick, and therefore probably not very ancient. A church is mentioned in Doomsday.
Sir Edward Wynter.
Besides the monuments of the St. John family, which will be
noticed hereafter, there is a very singular one to the memory of
Sir Edward Wynter, who lived at York-house, and whose exploits surpass even the heroic achievments of Lord Herbert of
Cherbury (fn. 18), who, alone and in his shirt, chased a host of midnight
robbers from his house. Sir Edward Wynter's monument is against
the south wall; on the top is his bust of a large size, with whiskers; underneath the inscription, is a basso-relievo representing him
in the act of performing the two exploits mentioned in his epitaph;
which is as follows:
"P. M. S.
"Equitis, qui adhuc impuber, ex patriâ proficiscens in Orientalibus Indiis mercaturam feliciter exercuit, magnas opes comparavit, majores conflaturus si non sprevisset. Ibidem splendide vixit et honorifice. Post annos 42 Angliam revisit. Uxorem duxit Emmã filiã Rich. Howe armig. Norfolc. Decessit Mar. 2°. An. ætat. 64. Dni. 1685–6.
"Posuit Marito optime de se merito "Uxor mæstissima."
"Born to be great in fortune as in mind, Too great to be within an isle confin'd; Young, helpless, friendless, seas unknown he tried; But English courage all those wants supplied. A pregnant wit, a painful diligence, Care to provide, and bounty to dispense; Join'd to a soul sincere, plain, open, just, Procur'd him friends, and friends procur'd him trust: These were his fortunè's rise, and thus began This hardy youth, rais'd to that happy man. A rare example, and unknown to the most Where wealth is gain'd, and conscience is not lost: Nor less in martial honor was his name, Witness his actions of immortal fame: Alone unarm'd, a tyger he oppress'd, And crush'd to death the monster of a beast. Twice twenty mounted Moors he overthrew Singly on foot, some wounded, some he flew, Dispers'd the rest,—what more could Sampson do? True to his friends, a terror to his foes, Here now in peace his honor'd bones repose!"
His widow was married the year after his decease, to Sir James Fuller, and died in 1710. The monument was restored after the rebuilding of the church, by his great-grandson, Edward Hampson Wynter, Esq. On a tablet at the foot of it, are memorials for Mrs. Catharine Wynter, who died 1771; and William Woodstock Wynter, who died 1747; and on each side, the arms of Wynter and Howe (fn. 21).
At the east end of the church, over the north gallery, is a monument to the memory of Sir John Fleet, alderman of London, who died in 1712. Over the south gallery is another, to the memory of Mr. James Bull, merchant, who died in 1713. The other monuments mentioned by Aubrey, were not preserved at the rebuilding of the church.
The church of Battersea is dedicated to St. Mary; it is in the diocese of Winchester, and in the deanery of Southwark; the benefice is a vicarage. Laurence, Abbot of Westminster, first procured the appropriation of the great tithes for that abbey about the year 1159 (fn. 22). The monks of Westminster were to receive out of it two marks, reserving sufficient to the vicar to support the episcopal burdens and himself. I find that the rectory was held by John (fn. 23), bishop of Winchester, in the time of Philip and Mary; and that it was afterwards granted to Downing and Ashton (fn. 24), with the advowson of the vicarage, which in a MS. of Sir John Dodderidge (fn. 25), is mentioned amongst the livings in the gift of the crown. The advowson was granted, with the manor, to the St. Johns; and has continued annexed to it ever since.
At the taxation, An. 1291 (fn. 26), the rectory was rated at twenty-six marks and an half; the vicarage at fix marks and forty pence. The vicarage is valued in the king's books, at 13 l. 15s. 2½ d. It was presented (fn. 27) at the inquisition held at Kingston June 28th, 1658, that the rectory of Battersey, impropriated to Sir Walter St. John, was worth 80 l. per An.; that the vicarage was worth about 100 l. per An.; that Penge, a member of Battersey, was seven miles from the parish church, and contained twelve families; that they could not find a convenient place in the hundred, or country, to unite it to; that the nearest place of public worship, was Beckenham in Kent, about a mile distant: the commissioners were vested with powers to unite or separate parishes, as occasion required; but they did nothing in this case. The principal profits of the vicarage, arise from the tithes of the gardens. There are two terriers (fn. 28) of Battersey in the register at Winchester, fastened together, of the dates of 1619 and 1636.
Vicars of Battersea.
Owen Ridley, who was instituted to the vicarage of Battersea,
An. 1570, appears to have been involved in a tedious litigation
with his parishioners, and to have encountered no small share of
perfecution from them. The circumstance would not have been
worth recording but for two curious petitions which it produced;
the originals of which are in the possession of the present vicar,
by whom they have been obligingly communicated. One of them
is from certain of the inhabitants to Dr. Swale, one of her majesty's high commissioners for causes ecclesiastical; in which
they state many grievances which they had suffered from their
vicar during the space of eighteen years; amongst other crimes
alleged against him, is that of conversing with a witch. The
object of their petition was, that he might be deprived: it is signed
with thirteen names, and about thirty marks. The other petition,
which is to lord Burleigh, being the more curious of the two, is
here given at large:
"To the right honourable the lord Burleigh, lord highe treasurer of England.
"Most humbly shewe unto your honor, your daiely orators, the inhabitants of Battersey, besechinge you to extend your favor in all just cawses, to our mynister, Mr. Ridley: so it is (right honourable) that some have sought his deprivation, by many trobles, many yeares together, and in divers courts; sometymes in the archdeacon's, sometymes by complayninge to the busshopp, sometymes before the highe commissioners, sometymes before the archbushopp of Canterbury, his grace; yes, and once he hath bene indicted at the assizes. But God, the defender of the innocent, hath so protected him, that his cawse beinge tryed and knowene, he hath hadd a good issue of all theis trobles; yet the adversarie will not cease, but seeketh to deprive him of his life, for seekinge after witches, and procuringe the death of a man by witchcraft. He hath byn our vicar theis twenty yeares; he is zealous in the gospell, honest in life, painefull to teache us, and to catechize our youth; charitable and liberall to the poore and needy, accordinge to his abilety; he never sued any of all his parisheoners for tythes, althoughe he hath hadd cawse gyven by some so to doe. Of our conscience, wee take him rather to hate wytches, than to seeke after them; for he hath spoken often very bitterly against them owt of the bible, neither doe wee thinke or suspect the woman to be a witche which is accused, but hath alwayes lyved honestly, quietly, and painefully here, to gett a poore lyvinge truely. Therefore, the man beinge such a one, whome for his vertues wee love, his trobles heretofore so greate, so many, and so chardgable to the undoinge of himselfe, his wife, and children, and now so daingerous for the losse of his life, doth move us to become suitors unto your honour for him, beseechinge your honor to take notice, and to make due triall of him and his cawse, so that the truth beinge fownd owte, justice maie take place; your honor will defend the innocent in his innocencie, putt an end to his longe, many, wearisome, and daingerous trobles, and be a patrone unto him in all his good and honest actions; so shall wee be bound to thancke God for you, and to pray for you for ever." Signed by Robert Cooke, alias Cla rencieulx Roy d'Armes, Robert Claye, preacher, and fourteen others.
Thomas Temple, brother of Sir John Temple, the Irish master of the rolls, was instituted to the vicarage of Battersea in 1634 (fn. 29), and continued there during the civil wars; he was one of the ministers appointed by Cromwell to assist the committee for displacing ignorant and insufficient schoolmasters and ministers; he was likewise one of the assembly of divines, and a frequent preacher before the long parliament: several of his sermons are in print.
Mr. Temple was succeeded in the vicarage of Battersea by the learned bishop Patrick (fn. 30), who was educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, and was domestic chaplain to Sir Walter St. John, by whom he was presented to this benefice. Several of his tracts were published while he was vicar of Battersea, and are dedicated to his patron. He resigned the vicarage in 1675. He was a zealous champion of the protestant religion, both by his writings, and in conversation; particularly at a conference which he, in conjunction with Doctor Jane, held in the presence of James the Second, with two Roman catholic priests; in which he had so much the superiority over his opponents in argument, that the king retired in disgust, saying, that he never heard a good cause so ill defended, or a bad one so well. At the revolution, he was rewarded with the bishopric of Chichefter (fn. 31), and was afterwards translated to Ely. He died in 1707, and left behind him a very numerous collection of printed works; consisting of sermons, devotional and controversial tracts, and paraphrases on the scriptures, which are held in great estimation, and which were continued by William Lowth, father of the late bishop of London.
Dr. Thomas Church.
Dr. Thomas Church, of Brazen Nose College, Oxford, who was instituted to the vicarage of Battersea in the year 1740, distinguished himself much in the field of controversy, in which he engaged against Westley, Whitfield, and Middleton; for his sucessful attack upon the latter, and his defence of the miraculous powers during the early ages of christianity, the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D. D. by diploma. He was too zealously attached to his religion to let the opinions of Lord Bolingbroke pass unnoticed, notwithstanding he had been his patron. His publication upon this subject, however, was anonymous; it was called, An Analysis of the Philosophical Works of the late Lord Bolingbroke, and came out in 1755. Dr. Church published likewise several single sermons: he died in 1756, aged 49, having never obtained any farther preferment than the vicarage of Battersea, and a prebendal stall in St. Paul's cathedral.
The present vicar is John Gardnor, M. A. who was instituted in 1778.
The register of this parish begins in the year 1559; and, excepting the former part of the present century, appears to be accurate. Dr. Church, soon after he was instituted to the vicarage, began to transcribe a considerable part of the registers, which, for many years preceding, had been kept by a very ignorant parish clerk. He proceeded so far as to copy the whole of the baptisms; and, with great industry, rectified a vast number of mistakes, and supplied many deficiencies. The difficulty of transcribing the burials, of which indeed for some years there were no entries, discouraged him from proceeding any farther in this laudable undertaking.
Comparative state of population.
The increase of population in this parish, appears to have been very small during the last hundred years, in which respect it differs from most others in the neighbourhood of the metropolis. The reason of this difference appears to have been the inconvenience of the passage over the Thames. This could not be so much felt a century ago, when our ancestors were little accustomed to the luxury of bridges; but no doubt would act as a bar to population, since they have been more frequent. This obstacle was removed at Battersea, by the building of the bridge there, which was opened about twenty years ago, and which now begins to have the effect of increasing the number of buildings, above twenty houses having been lately erected, most of which are as yet uninhabited; including these, the number of houses in the parish is about 360.
These numbers prove, that the village was not free from the plague in either of those years; yet when we compare them with the average of those periods, they do not show its fatality to have been so great as might be expected in a village so near to London.
St. John family.
Battersea was long the residence, as well as the property, of the
St. Johns; and many of the births, deaths, and marriages of that
family are recorded in the parish register; the most interesting of
which I shall insert:
"The Lord Oliver St. John, buried Jan. 12. 1630–1."
"The Ladie Grandison, her name Jone, buried Mar. 10. 1630–1."
Oliver St. John, Viscount Grandison.
Oliver St. John was the first of the family who settled at Battersea; he married Joan, daughter and heir of Henry Roydon Esq.
of that place, and widow of Sir William Holcroft. He was general of the forces in Ireland, and was lord high treasurer, and
lord deputy of that realm; was created Viscount Grandison, of
Ireland, by James I.; and in 1626, was made an English peer, by
the title of Baron St. John: he died without issue. A monument
to his memory, is fixed in the north wall of the church, ornamented
with busts of himself and his lady, in white marble; over which are
the arms and quarterings of St. John (fn. 32) impaling Roydon (fn. 33), underneath is the following inscription:
"Deo trino and uno facrum
Olivero Nicholai Sct. John de Lydeard filio secundo eq. aurato antiquissimis et illustribus de Bellocampo, de Bletsoe, Grandisonis et Tregoziæ familiis oriundo. Terra marique, domi, forisque, belli pacisque artibus egregio, divæ Elizabethæ, e nobilissima pensionariorum cohorte, suis inde meritis et singulari divi Jacobi gratia, in Hibernia instrumentis bellicis præfecto, Conaciæ Pro-præside et Quæstori summo et Regis vicario, Procomiti de Grandisonis et Tregoziæ, de Hyworth, in Anglia, Baroni, eidem divo Jacobo et filio ejus piissimo a secretioribus et sanctioribus conciliis. Postquam is annos honoribus æquaverat et tranquillissime senuerat somnienti similiter extincto, Johannes de Sanct. John Eques et Baronettus ac fratre nepos et hæres avunculo mærentissimo mæstissimus p. in ecclesia de Battersey.
"Vixit annos 70. Mor. 29 Decembris 1630."
Funeral of Sir John St. John.
In 1648, Sir John St. John (the nephew as I imagine of Lord Grandison (fn. 34) ) was buried at Battersea with such unusual pomp, that it excited the attention of the heralds, who commenced a prosecution against Mr. Walter St. John the executor, for acting so contrary to the usage of arms and the laws of heraldry.
In the British Museum (fn. 35) is a MS. deposition of William Riley, one of the heralds, who declares, that the funeral of the deceased was conducted in a manner so much above his degree, that the escutcheons were more than were used at the funeral of a duke; and that he never saw so many pennons but at the funeral of one of the blood royal; and that he considered such a precedent to be destructive of all distinction, order, and degree of honour and nobility. The burial of Sir John St. John is omitted in the Register.
"Sir Walter St. John, Bart. æt. 87, buried July 9, 1708."
Sir Walter St. John.
Sir Walter St. John, the third baronet of the family, succeeded his nephew Sir John, who died before he came of age. Sir Walter married one of the daughters of lord chief justice St. John:—he was eminent for piety and moral virtues. The parish of Battersea is indebted to him for the foundation of a free-school, which he endowed in the year 1700 for twenty poor boys, and to which both he and his lady left farther sums towards apprenticing some of them. A portrait of Sir Walter is preserved in the school-room.
"Henry, the son of Mr. Walter St. John, baptized Oct. 17, 1652."
"The Right Honorable Henry Lord Viscount St. John, buried April 16, 1742."
Henry Viscount St. John.
This was the father of Lord Bolingbroke. In 1684, being then Mr. Henry St. John, he was tried for the murder of Sir William Estcourt, Bart. and was convicted. Bishop Burnet speaking, no doubt, of this affair, tells the story thus:—That a young gentleman of a noble family, in the year 1684, being at supper with a large party, a sudden quarrel arose between him and another gentleman, very warm words passed, and swords were drawn, three persons were engaged in the rencounter, one of whom was killed on the spot, the other two were indicted for murder; it appeared uncertain by which the fatal wound was given, nor did the proof against either amount to more than manslaughter: yet the gentleman abovementioned being one of the two, was advised to confess the indictment, and to let sentence pass for murder. He was threatened with the utmost rigour of the law if he neglected to follow this advice; if he complied, he was promised a pardon. He thought it prudent to comply, and was convicted accordingly: but to his cost found, that his pardon was to be purchased at the high rate of 16,000 l.; one half of which the king converted to his own use; and bestowed the remainder upon two ladies who were in great favor. This is bishop Burnet's account (fn. 36). It appears, however, that after the conviction, a doubt arose, whether the king could pardon him.—The matter was much debated, and bishop Barlow wrote one of his cases of conscience upon the subject (fn. 37) : he determines the point in the affirmative. It is said, that to obviate all doubts, the king granted him only a reprieve; in confirmation of this, no pardon appears to have been enrolled (fn. 38) : the reprieve was for a long term of years, which the extreme old age which he attained rendered it probable that he would survive. In 1716 he was created Baron St. John of Battersea, and Viscount St. John, and died in 1742, as mentioned above, on the verge of ninety.
"Henry, son of Henry St. John, Esq. baptized Oct. 10, 1678."
"Henry St. John, late Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, buried December 18, 1751."
These dates will serve to correct an inaccuracy in the Life of Lord Bolingbroke, in which it is asserted, that he died at the age of seventy-nine (fn. 39); this has led the editors of the Biographia (fn. 40) into an error, and has induced them to fix the date of his birth in 1672. They are inaccurate likewise in saying that his lady died many years before him, as will appear both by her epitaph, and the entry of her burial, in the register. Upon the death of his father, lord Bolingbroke became possessed of the paternal estate at Battersea, to which place he immediately retired, having long wished to spend the evening of his days there; which he did, we are informed, with that dignity which was the natural result of his elevated genius, perfected by long experience, many disappointments, and much reflection, resolving never more to meddle with public affairs (fn. 41). Thus say his biographers; such of his contemporaries, however, as I have had an opportunity of conversing with, and some of them knew him personally, and visited him at Battersea, do not give him credit for his resolutions of retirement. As a sensible man, no doubt, he made that retirement, which was not the object of his choice, sit as easy upon him as possible; but I have been assured, that he endeavoured to the last to regain his seat in the house of lords, and to overthrow the minister, and that he would have rejoiced to have been again in power with the party to which he was attached. He always expressed a great partiality towards Battersea, and wished that he might breathe his last in the house of his ancestors there:—this wish was accomplished. He died December 12th, 1751 (fn. 42). His second wife was widow of the Marquis de Villette, and niece of the celebrated Mad. de Maintenon. She died a short time before her husband, and lies buried in the same vault with him in Battersea church; where, on the north wall, is a monument to their memory by Roubiliac, of grey and black marble: the upper part is ornamented with lord Bolingbroke's arms (fn. 43). The inscription is on a black tablet, on each side of which are medallions with profiles in basso-relievo of lord and lady Bolingbroke, well executed, in white marble. The inscription is as follows:
Henry St. John,
In the reign of Queen Anne,
Secretary of War—Secretary of State,
And Viscount Bolingbroke:
In the days of King George the first and King George the second,
Something more and better.
His attachment to Queen Anne,
Exposed him to a long and severe persecution;
He bore it with firmness of mind,
The enemy of no national party,
The friend of no faction;
Distinguished (under the cloud of a proscription,
which had not been entirely taken off)
By zeal to maintain the liberty,
And to restore the ancient prosperity,
of Great Britain.
He died the 12th of December,
1751, aged 73."
"In the same vault
are interred, the remains of
Mary Clara des Champs de Marcelly,
Marchioness of Villette, and Viscountess
Bolingbroke, of a noble family,
bred in the court of Lewis 14th.
She reflected a lustre on the former,
by the superior accomplishments of her mind;
She was an ornament to the latter,
by the amiable dignity and grace of her behaviour.
the honour of her own sex,
the delight and admiration of ours
: She dyed,
an object of imitation to both:
With all the firmness that reason,
With all the resignation that religion,
Aged 74 the 18th of March,
The last of the St. John family that was buried at Battersea, was an infant daughter of Lord Bolingbroke in 1762.
In 1763 the estate was alienated; and about fifteen years ago, the greater part of Bolingbroke-house was pulled down: a few of the rooms remain, among which is one wainscotted with cedar, said to have been Lord Bolingbroke's favourite apartment. The pictures which were in the old house were sold by auction and dispersed. Vertue mentions a good portrait, on board, of a woman which he saw there, said to be the wife of St. Antonio More, painted by himself (fn. 44) :
On the site of Bolingbroke-house was erected, about two years ago, a horizontal air-mill of a new construction, and of very large dimensions: the shape of the dome or case which contains the moveable machine (fn. 45), is that of a truncated cone; being circular, of fifty-two feet diameter at the bottom, and forty-five feet at the top: the height of the main shaft is 120 feet; that is, forty feet from the floor to the bottom of the dome, and eighty feet thence to the top. The moveable machine is of the same shape, and nearly of the same dimensions as the dome; having just space to turn round within it: the extremities of this machine are called floats, as in the wheel of a water-mill; the pieces of wood which connect them with the main shaft, are called the arms; there are ninety-six floats, and the same number of shutters in the dome, which, when open, admit, even when there is little wind, a sufficient current of air to turn the machine, and, by a particular contrivance, shut when the wind is so violent as to endanger the structure. This mill, at its first erection, was used for preparing of oil; it is now used as a corn-mill, and is occupied by Messrs. Hodgson and Co.
A few other entries, which I thought deserving of notice, in the parish register, are here transcribed.
Instances of longevity.
"Goody Hazleton, aged 108 years, was buried Oct. 29, 1703."
"William Abbots, ætat. 101, buried Jan. 5. 1733."
4 Children at a birth.
"Feb. 6, 1730, Mary, Sarah, and Rebecca, children of Richard and Rebecca Harding, baptized."
"Feb. 8, Rebecca, wife of Richard Harding, buried."
She died in labour of a fourth child, which was still-born; the three children were buried the 2d of March following.—The husband was a waterman.
Charles Williams the actor.
"Jan. 31, 1731, Charles Williams, from London, buried."
Charles Williams was an actor of some eminence at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane: he died in the prime of life, being only 38 years of age. He was buried in the church-yard, and was attended to the grave by the whole body of comedians; the pall was supported by Wilks, Griffin, the two Cibbers, and the two Mills's.—There is no memorial to him.
The parish of Battersea enjoys 4 l. per annum from Mr. Smith's charity; and has had legacies left to its poor by various benefactors, to the amount of above 400 l., exclusive of the liberal benefaction of Sir Walter and Lady St. John.